Ever wonder why a specific image or text is displayed when you create a Link Post? To understand how the image and text are selected, let’s first chat about scraping and how it works.
What is scraping?
Social media platforms use a behind-the-scenes process to gather images and text from hyperlinks and convert them into shareable content cards. These content cards consist of three elements: an image, a title, and a description.
Crawling the webpage to collect these three elements is known as scraping. The scraping process reads a webpage, finds the image, title, and description, and fashions them into a content card. In the example below, X, formerly Twitter,
scraped this link to create this lovely content card.
Social media platforms modify the appearance of the content card to match their platform, but the information they gather behind the scenes is often identical.
How scraping works
When creating content using a hyperlink on EveryoneSocial or any other social media website, the crawling service (often referred to as a bot) visits the webpage and reads the content.
Instead of reading the website for images and text like humans do, the bot scans the webpage’s data behind the scenes and looks for specific properties. These meta properties, sometimes called tags, tell the bot what content to use for the content card.
Meta properties work like tags that say “Hey bot, use this image, this title, and this description to create a content card!” Without these properties in place, the bot will attempt to guess which images and content might be suitable for those fields—sometimes with mixed results.
How to ensure the right images and text are used
EveryoneSocial and all other social media platforms use Open Graph, or OG, tags to make image and text selections. As discussed above, Open Graph tags are just the fancy name for the labels that tell the bots what content should be used to create a content card.
Social media platforms require three OG tags to create content or preview cards. The three OG tags are the title, image, and description.
OG tags tell crawler bots specifically what content to use. In contrast, HTML tags work like broad categories; they tell bots what type of content to expect but don’t specify what content to select.
Title character length: We recommend 50 - 60 characters. Sites start to cut off the title tag after 50 - 60 characters.
Description character length: We recommend 155 - 160 characters. Sites start to cut off the title tag after 155 - 160 characters.
If the OG tags are missing, the three HTML tags we fallback on are
Lost on that last bit? That’s OK. The website administrator who created the webpage will have the required developer permissions to make the necessary changes and will be familiar with these concepts. We recommend sharing this article and this troubleshooting article with the appropriate web admins to ensure the page shares the intended information when it's scraped.
How EveryoneSocial chooses images and text from a URL
If every web developer used the industry best practice of applying the OG tags mentioned above, not much else would need to be said here; but that’s not the case. Some web developers design pages that look pleasing to the eye but lack the necessary tags that enable social media sharing.
So what happens then? We can’t answer for other social media platforms, but EveryoneSocial uses several layers of redundancy to achieve the best possible results — even when the webpage doesn’t follow convention standards.
Here’s a bit more detail on how it all fits together.
- We scrape the page using our internally developed crawler, EveryoneSocialBot.
EveryoneSocialBot looks for Open Graph tags. If the three necessary tags are found, a content card appears.
If one or more Open Graph tags are missing, we fall back to other methods:
og:titlemissing = EveryoneSocialBot scrapes for the HTML tag
og:imagemissing = EveryoneSocialBot scrapes for the HTML tag
<image>(if present) and loads the first five images from the article, selecting the largest one.
Images smaller than 300x200 are rejected.
og:descriptionmissing = EveryoneSocialBot scrapes for HTML tag
<meta property='description content=... />(If present).
If not found, we fall back to the longest single text block and truncate it to 500 characters.
If one or all of these efforts fail, the scrape attempt is handed to the next provider, Embed.ly, which repeats a similar action using different mechanisms and fallbacks.
If all efforts fail, a notification appears in the app:
So far, we’ve talked about how everything works when things go according to plan, but if you’ve made it this far, you’ve likely found a link that’s giving you a bit of trouble. If so, we’re here to help! Start your next troubleshooting step here.